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Downtown: Air War Over Hanoi, 1965-1972» Forums » Sessions

Subject: AAR: Scenario D2 "Beginnings" rss

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Edmund Hon
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{my first ever AAR of any wargames posted online}

D2: Beginnings

Scenario D2 "Beginnings" depicts a small USN bombing mission into Route Pack 6 during the early days of Rolling Thunder in October 1965. The US target is the bridge at Vu Chua with a diversionary raid on the Kep airbase nearby. Total US force involved are 20 A-4C Skyhawks tasked with bombing, plus 4 F-4B Phantoms and 4 F-8D Crusaders as escort.

The DRV did not upgrade any of the on map AAA, instead 2 light and 1 medium AAA was purchased, with one of the light AAA deployed at Vu Chua and the medium deployed at Hex 1725 to complete a line of AAA concentrations that stretches from Vu Chua to Hanoi. The other light AAA was deployed hidden at hex 1118, covering the southern approaches to Vu Chua and the eastern approaches to Kep. One flight of 2 MiG-17Fs were deployed at both Kep and Phuc Yen.

The US plan is to enter at entry arrow A. Both raid forces will be following the same ingress route in two parallel columns, heading North. At a point just off the eastern end of Phantom Ridge they will turn NW, skirting just outside the Chinese Buffer Zone. When they are due east of the targets the two raid forces will split up and head west for their respective targets. The raids will continue west to egress the target area, rejoin and turn SW, then SE over Bac Ninh and towards the coast.

The early warning roll only gives the DRV minimum warning so all the MiGs start on the ground and all US flights enter undetected. However most of the US flights were detected by the time the whole force was feet dry about 10 nm east of Haiphong.

The US forces entered in a box formation, with the two raid forces (3 flights of A-4 in the Vu Chua raid and 2 in the Kep raid) flying in parallel columns placed in the middle of a "box" 5 hexes wide and 7 hexes long, with the two F-4 flights stationed at the forward corners of the box and the two F-8 flights at the rear corners.

The DRV fighters are scrambled as soon as the US forces are on map, and with the dummy flights generated, soon there is a line of 4 DRV flights heading SE towards the Haiphong area. The very low US detection level coupled with the fact that the DRV flights are on the deck most of the time, means that they can only be detected with a roll of 20 on 2D10 (1% chance). So the US fighters were forced to investigate each of the DRV flights with the Mk.1 eyeball.

One by one the US CAP flights peeled off to meet the DRV flights and a merry cat & mouse chase developed, with the US fighters trying to get behind a DRV flight hoping to get a visual detection, and the DRV flights feinting the occasional attack run on the US fighters while working their way towards the A-4 flights. One of the F-8 flights got careless during the aerial dance and blundered into the flak zones around the Kien An airbase and one of the F-8 was crippled by AAA as a result, and the whole flight had to abort.

One of the real and undetected DRV flight actually managed to jump one of the F-4 flights. Fortunately for the F-4s they made a successful engagement roll and avoid being surprised. In fact the MiG-17s completely blew their attack run and failed to get even a single shot against the Phantoms, which in turn shot down one of the MiGs. The F-4 flight didn't have a good morale check roll however, and they had to abort afterwards, their pilots much too excited about a MiG kill this early in the conflict.

The other F-4 flight (the veteran one) headed NW to intercept one of the DRV flights, which had splitted off from the rest hoping to head off the main bombing force - another cat & mouse chase developed N of the Phantom ridge (the DRV flight will eventually turn out to be a dummy). With 3 of the 4 US CAP flights either aborted or lured away, the sole remaining F-8 flight had their hands full trying to fend off the two remaining DRV flights. One of the DRV flight (the other real one) managed to sped pass the F-8s and bounced the rear A-4 flight of the Kep raid, shooting down one of the Skyhawks (the pilot ejected and was captured on the ground). In the ensuing panic, 2 other A-4 flights (the other Kep raid flight and one of the Vu Chua raid flight) dumped their bombs and aborted, and suddenly the US was left with only two bombing flights out of the original 5, both targeting Vu Chua. The luck of the victorious MiG-17s didn't last long though, as the F-8 flight caught up with them immediately afterwards and crippled one of the MiGs.

By this time it is evident to the US which DRV flights are real and which are fake, and with both real DRV flights disordered after combat the US are less concerned about MiGS and more about getting bombs on target. The two remaining Vu Chua raid A-4 flights made it to the target, with the lead flight bombing the AAA (putting 3 level of suppression on it) and the trailing flight getting a 4 result on the Vu Chua bridge. Both flights egressed the target area unscathed.

The first DRV flight - the one that blew the attack on the F-4 flight - tried to head to the orbit point to reorganize, but was attacked by the veteran F-4 flight which had rejoined the fight. The MiG was damaged, but the F-4s ran out of missiles in the process. This pretty much concludes the action for the day. The two A-4 flights made it pass the Vu Chua - Hanoi flak belt with no damage and the crippled F-8 recovered successfully.

Final damage assessment revealed that the "4" result on the Vu Chua bridge was as good as advertised, and the bridge was totally destroyed. So the final tally is 9 (target destroyed) + 2 (one MiG shot down) = 11 points for the US, and 2 (one US fighter shot down) + 1 (crew captured / lost) = 3 points for the DRV, for a net difference of 8 points which is an "Inconclusive Operation" (just 1 point short of a US Victory).


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Adam B
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Fantastic first AAR!!!!
Was this a solo play or did you have a live opponent?
 
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Edmund Hon
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It was played solo but I didn't use the solo rules - I tried it once before and found it a bit too much work. By the time all 4 DRV flights are up I frequently forgot which is real and which is dummy anyway so I just played it as if they are all real, and only looked at the logsheet to remind myself which one is real when an engagement becomes a possibility.
 
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